WASHINGTON (WJZ)–For the first time in 25 years, staff at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are celebrating the birth of a male Bornean orangutan.
The young orangutan was born last night around 8:52 p.m. as parents Batang and Kyle, both 19-years-old, welcomed their son into the world.
Zoo officials say they have observed Batang nursing the infant who has been clinging closely to his mother, and they are cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive.
“Each and every birth of a critically endangered species is significant, but it is all the more exciting and this is a historic moment for our Smithsonian’s National Zoo,” said Meredith Bastian, curator of primates and member of the Orangutan SSP Steering Committee. “I am very proud of Batang and my team. Ever since we received the breeding recommendation, they have dedicated themselves to preparing Batang for motherhood. I look forward to watching the infant experience everything for the first time—especially meeting the other orangutans and going outside for the first time with Batang.”
Officials at the zoo say for the past three years they have been acclimating Batang to the experiences of motherhood and training her to care for an infant.
Orangutans are natives to Indonesia and Malaysia and found only in the diverse forests of Borneo and Sumatra. The zoo says that for the past seven decades humans have cleared land that was originally orangutan territory in order to meet the growing demand for palm oil. Scientists estimate that the orangutan population has decreased by 80-percent.